Inside what life is really like for the new generation of professional cooks—a captivating tale of the make-or-break first year at a young chef’s new restaurant.
For many young people, being a chef is as compelling a dream as being a rock star or professional athlete. Skill and creativity in the kitchen are more profitable than ever before, as cooks scramble to reach the top—but talent isn’t enough. Today’s chef needs the business savvy of a high-risk entrepreneur, determination, and big dose of luck.
The heart of Generation Chef is the story of Jonah Miller, who at age twenty-four attempts to fulfill a lifelong dream by opening the Basque restaurant Huertas in New York City, still the high-stakes center of the restaurant business for an ambitious young chef. Miller, a rising star who has been named to the 30-Under-30 list of both Forbes and Zagat, quits his job as a sous chef, creates a business plan, lines up investors, leases a space, hires a staff, and gets ready to put his reputation and his future on the line.
Journalist and food writer Karen Stabiner takes us inside Huertas’s roller-coaster first year, but also provides insight into the challenging world a young chef faces today—the intense financial pressures, the overcrowded field of aspiring cooks, and the impact of reviews and social media, which can dictate who survives.
A fast-paced narrative filled with suspense, Generation Chef is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at drive and passion in one of today’s hottest professions.
Journalist and author Stabiner (Family Table) presents this exhaustive and fascinating account of how 20-something chef Jonah Miller elbowed his way onto New York City's competitive culinary stage. Stabiner, who teaches food journalism at Columbia University, captures every moment of drama in the daunting and Byzantine process of establishing Huertas, Miller's Spanish restaurant in the East Village. Miller has been working towards this dream since he was 14 years old, and Stabiner does great justice to both his determination and creative flair. Stabiner's narrative offers an excellent window into the world of bussers, dishwashers, line cooks, waiters, landlords, inspectors, and community board members. Stabiner creates tension for the reader as Miller and his business partner, Nate Adler, await the first wave of New York's fickle, fashion-seeking patrons; weather a terrifying summer lull; and await the potentially life-changing visit from a New York Times reviewer. These are just three of the steps along a tortuous path of high-stakes tests that Miller must pass simply to stay in business for the first year. Stabiner takes the reader beyond the shiny surface of food celebrity and Instagrammed plates to expose the beating hearts of those who get up every day to create something inspiring for strangers to consume.